This time of year goes by too quickly. Need proof? At the completion of this week’s games, most teams will be a quarter of the way through their respective seasons. Before the NCAA got wise to the 12-game schedule, it’d be even worse, but let’s not think about those darker days. Week three is probably the first decent week of the season. This is when we, as fans, begin to benefit from better match ups, and when teams start to really make adjustments in an attempt to shore up weaknesses and exploit strengths. This week’s Honors Courses features three match ups in which ranked opponents square off. Let’s dive right in – and remember, all times are Central. Deal with it.
(13) kansas at (19) South Florida – 7 p.m.
It kills me to put kansas in back-to-back editions of Honors Courses. Last week was a stretch, but it was a game that interested me. This week, it’s unavoidable. The first pairing of ranked foes ought to be a solid game. As I’m obviously rooting for the Bulls, I like that this one is in Tampa. It might be that both teams have something to prove, but that’s probably more true for South Florida than it is for kansas. The question is, will South Florida rise to the challenge? The interesting backdrop to this is that both the rotund Mark Mangino, and the quiet taskmaster Leavitt were assistants on the same staff that launched the dramatic turnaround at Kansas State. Who knew that they would one day make a South Florida/kU match up one of the most intriguing games in college football? I think USF makes a statement this week. I wish I were more certain. Either way, I’ll be tuning in come 7 p.m. Friday.
Nevada at (6) Missouri – 11:37 a.m.
Watch the weather in this one. The Saturday forecast for Columbia, MO is… wet. We already knew the Nevada defense would be in for a challenging day, but weather like this tends to benefit offenses, and Nevada’s is no slouch. This game will mark the return of William Moore, starting safety and the heart and soul of the Missouri defense. It also marks the return of dynamic wide receiver Denario Alexander, as if Missouri needed another option at WR. Last week’s tilt vs. Texas Tech was a nice preview for Nevada. They will have seen the kind of speed a team like Missouri boasts, but do they have the talent to adjust? Nevada had no problem racking putting 49 on Grambling, but struggled to get 19 vs. a Texas Tech defense that nobody would saddle with the tag “dominant.” Nevada loses starting RB Luke Lippincott for the season, but the run isn’t a problem for Missouri. If Nevada is going to have a chance in this one, it’ll be through the air.
(14) East Carolina at Tulane 2:00 p.m.
I have to put ECU in here. I’ve picked against them the first two weeks, and they’ve proven me wrong both times. Finally, we have a Holtz who can coach! ECU better enjoy this season with Skip, because I have a feeling he’s going to be on more than one short list come December. On the plus side, this game won’t be played at ECU, so fans don’t have to go into this one feeling anxious about receiving a righteous beat down for looking crossways with overzealous security forces. Unless Ike changes course and bails them out, Tulane doesn’t stand much of a chance in this one, but they’re not really the reason to watch. This is all ECU.
(5) Ohio State at (1) USC – 7:00 p.m.
This should be something like (15) OSU at (1) USC, but reality will set in soon enough for the Buckeyes. OSU will have its hands full against Illinois and Wisconsin in the Big Ten. USC is in a completely different league. Watch this game because of the hype, and because you will get to see about as perfect a college football team as there is in USC. Terrelle Pryor is the truth, though, and he will see time in this game. He’s not likely to impact the outcome of the game this season, but he’s a guy OSU fans are rightfully excited about. Tressel says Beanie Wells won’t play this week. If he’s smart, that will be a true statement. Wells isn’t going to be the difference between an OSU win or loss in this game. Rest him up and have him ready to go in conference play. That’s when they’ll really need him.
(10) Wisconsin at (21) Fresno State – 9:30 p.m.
We here at STQ have given Wisconsin a fair amount of ribbing for its mind-numbing offense, but that offense has given plenty of reasons for fans at Camp Randall to rejoice. Unfortunately, this one’s not at Camp Randall, and Fresno St. is NOT kind to ranked opponents. Ask Kansas State, a team and fan base whose butt holes pucker at the mere mention Frezzie State. The last time these two teams hooked up, Fresno St. came out with the win. Can they do it again? It’s a tall order, but this is exactly the type of game in which Fresno State thrives. Throw some Bailey’s in a mug of coffee and settle into the recliner, because this is definitely a game worth staying up for.